Sir Alex Ferguson and Sean Dyche pay tribute to legendary Chesterfield manager John Duncan after sad death

Sir Alex Ferguson and Sean Dyche have led the tributes to legendary Chesterfield boss John Duncan, who has passed away, aged 73.
Spireites legend John Duncan has sadly passed away, aged 73.Spireites legend John Duncan has sadly passed away, aged 73.
Spireites legend John Duncan has sadly passed away, aged 73.

The Spireites announced the extremely sad news at 5pm on Saturday.

He died peacefully at home surrounded by his loved ones.

Duncan is considered to be Town’s best ever manager after two spells at the club, including winning promotion from the Fourth Division twice, and leading them to a memorable run to the FA Cup semi-final in 1997.

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Paying tribute to Duncan, former Spireites player and close friend Dyche, told the League Managers Association (LMA): “I worked with John for a number of years whilst at Chesterfield FC through some of the best years in the club’s history.

“He was an excellent manager who always worked to get the best out of all of his staff and players in order to mould a team into one that could challenge and be successful.

“He was not only a manager to me, as he became a friend and a mentor as my career progressed from player to coach and onto being a manager. I always appreciated his knowledge and help and I reached out to him many, many times for an opinion and support whenever I felt necessary.

“His dry wit and sense of humour were always intact if and when he felt it was the right moment. My respect for him runs deep and I was so fortunate to get the chance to tell him so recently.

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“My heart and thoughts are with his family, especially his three brave daughters who have helped him so much over the last months.

“A loss to football and a big loss to me personally, but he won’t be forgotten by me or by all those who played under him or knew him”.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex also paid his respects.

“I will always remember John with a great deal of respect and affection,” he said.

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“When I was playing and managing in Scotland, I remember him playing up front for Dundee and then of course he went on to be an exceptional striker for Tottenham.

“I’ll never forget John, as manager of Chesterfield, leading his second division team to the 1997 FA Cup semi-finals which really was a fantastic achievement.

“In his role as LMA technical manager, I know first-hand what an invaluable asset he was to the association, working tirelessly and sharing his superb knowledge of the game. John understood the needs of his fellow LMA members and the importance of a collective voice.

“John had such humility and a great sense of humour and I spoke with him only a matter of weeks ago. I will miss seeing him and I send my deepest condolences to his daughters, his sister, his partner and their families.”

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LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson added: “In the 42 years I have known John, his modesty has shone through. Never have I heard him mention his phenomenal goalscoring record as a professional player - a goal every two games.

“When I was at Sheffield Wednesday, he was at Chesterfield, so our paths crossed frequently, enjoyably and always fruitfully. You could play against John’s team and, at the end of the game - win, lose or draw - John would still be John.

“We were fortunate to have him as a loyal, honest, experienced, knowledgeable and hardworking member of the LMA team. He was never afraid to speak his mind but, when he did, it was only and always in the best interests of our members and the game he loved. His passing will leave a huge hole.

“I know I speak for the whole LMA team and his friends when I say we will remember John and miss him dearly. John’s family and many friends are in my thoughts.”

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Current Chesterfield boss Paul Cook was saddened by the news.

Speaking just after Saturday’s match at Eastleigh, Cook said: “I am sad to hear it, I knew John personally.

"He was a really good man.

"My deepest sympathies to all his family and all his friends and everyone in and around John.

"It is a really, really sad time.

"Everyone from the dressing room wishes his family ever so well, it is a really sad time.”

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Spireites chief executive, John Croot, will also remember him fondly.

He said: “John was respected across football and gave our fans memories that will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

The Spireites have said in a statement: “We are very sad to report the passing of former Spireites manager John Duncan at the age of 73.

“John enjoyed much success during two spells as manager of Chesterfield, guiding the club to a Fourth Division title and promotion via the play-offs, as well as an unforgettable FA Cup semi-final appearance in 1997.

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“He maintained close links with the Spireites and was a popular guest at a reunion event held at the Technique Stadium in April to mark the 25th anniversary of the 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.

“A lengthy tribute to John will be published on the website on Sunday morning.

“We send our sincere condolences to John’s family and friends and our thoughts are with them.”

One of his other clubs, Ipswich Town, said: “The club is devastated to report that John Duncan, former manager of Town, has passed away at the age of 73. He died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones. May he rest in peace.”